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A New Normal

Learning to adjust to another "new normal", as our son returns to school.

We are getting used to a new normal in our house.  A routine that revolves around meal times.  A normal that includes finger pricks, shots, carb counting and lots of guessing and worry. 

It has been three weeks since our little fighter, Brady, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  It has been three weeks since we developed a new normal in our house.  Tomorrow morning, we will learn how to adjust to another "new normal." 

Brady will return to his special education preschool class after three weeks of learning to manage his diabetes at home.  It is scary letting go of what has become very "normal" and safe to us. As many parents of children with special needs, any type of "special need", will tell you, normal is never normal.  Our definition of normal is constantly changing and you and your family are always learning to adjust to a "new normal." 

For the past three years, my family has constantly been adjusting as Brady accomplishes new goals, lags behind at so many other developmental milestones and surprises us and saddens us each and every week.  The first few years of Brady's life included adjustments to when we went places, how we got to places and if we would go places....all revolving around Brady.  Brady's health, his impairments, his doctor and therapy appointments and making sure he was happy, were what made our life normal.  

As Brady grew up and learned to get around, our hope grew that everything would be OK and normal would be a traditional definition of "normal."  As Brady started to smile and laugh and interact with his family, we started to believe that our life would eventually return to "normal."  But as the testing started and the cognitive delays appeared more prominently and the speech and words continued to allude Brady, we started to come to terms with what our "new normal" would be. 

Brady started school this past September.  Real school.  He got on a school bus and rode along with his classmates to start a new adventure.  It took us a few weeks, but, with time, going to school became a normal part of Brady's daily routine.  Five days a week, for three hours a day, Brady goes to a special education program for three year olds with developmental delays and other special needs.  It has taken him some time to get used to the classroom routine and it has taken us some time to get used to the expectations that are placed upon him at school, but we learned to appreciate that what we considered "normal" development in school, had a whole new definition. 

We have redefined the term "normal" to include patience, small victories and new goals.  Then everything changed again when we were hit with Brady's Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.  For the past several weeks, we have learned that health concerns and medical issues are about so much more than medicine.  Sure, the medicine helps.  Brady is feeling better because of the insulin.  But Brady is a new little boy.  He is happier, smiling more and hugging everyone who walks through our door. He watches his favorite video from start to finish several times a day.  He sits down to eat his snack and he turns to face us when we call his name.  The medicine is working and a new little boy is emerging. 

He is ready to go back to school.  He is ready to return to his routine of therapies, peers and learning.  The diabetes is not holding him back...it is actually helping him figure out who he is and what is possible when he is feeling the way he is meant to feel. So tomorrow, a new normal will begin in our house.  I will have to get up just a little bit earlier to make sure everything is ready before Brady's morning routine begins. 

I will have to make sure the insulin is packed, his school glucometer is ready to go and all the emergency snacks are tucked safely inside his backpack.  As all parents of children with special needs know, what we consider "normal" changes frequently.  Your definition of normal changes just as frequently.  Tonight, as I pack my son's backpack, sign off on his medical health plan and say a little prayer that he will be able to communicate any blood sugar problems to his teachers, I stop and think about all the changes to our lives in the last few weeks and I realize that we have found our new normal. 

Brady is happy.  Brady is getting healthier.  Brady continues to make progress-big, small and somewhere in between-each and every day.  As a parent, I have learned that it is OK to redefine the term "normal" each and every day, because, "normal" means something different to each and everyone one of us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Nancy Ronayne Webster February 27, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Erin, After reading your blog today, I saw one of our high school students resting on a bench during study hall--a student who is a Type I diabetic. Worried, I checked in with her--she had a horrible headache and needed to close her eyes for a moment. "I'm fine," she told me, "no worries. . ." Your blog opened my eyes to all this girl has gone through-and all her parents endured to get her ready to be on her own at school. So, once again, you made me think--think more broadly about the definition of "normal" and how we help one another as we walk this path. Thanks, Erin-- Love, Nancy
Mike Ronayne February 28, 2012 at 12:57 PM
THANKS ERIN FOR SHOWING US ALL THAT NORMAL CAN BE DEFINED IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS----KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK LOVE DAD

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